What is Shingles?
Shingles is the infection of a nerve & the surrounding skin. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox.
At Woburn Osteopaths we have often diagnosed patients with shingles who visit us reporting unexplained rib pain.
The main symptom of shingles is pain, followed by a rash that develops into itchy blisters. These look like chickenpox.
Various symptoms may precede the painful rash, including:
- Localised burning
- Feeling generally unwell
The shingles rash usually appears on one side of the body. It develops on the area of skin related to the affected nerve. New blisters can appear for up to a week. After a few days they become yellowish in colour, flatten & dry out.
Most people with shingles experience a localised band of pain. The pain may be a constant, dull or burning sensation & its intensity can vary from mild to severe.
After contracting chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus stays in the body. It can become active again later on if the immune system is compromised (e.g. due to stress, other illnesses), leading to shingles.
It is only possible to get shingles if you’ve had chickenpox.
It is possible to have shingles more than once, but it is rare to get it more than twice.
Adults 50+ & people with a weakened immune system are most at risk.
There is no cure for shingles, but there are ways to ease the symptoms until the condition improves. Shingles symptoms usually get better in 2-4 weeks.
Early treatment may help to reduce the severity of the condition & complications.
See a GP immediately for a clear diagnosis of shingles. Early prescription of antiviral tablets may help to reduce the severity of the condition & complications.
- Keep the rash clean & dry.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing.
- Try calamine lotion to help relieve itching.
- Do not let dressings or plasters stick to the rash.
- Avoid antibiotic creams.
- Painkillers / anti-inflammatories for pain relief.